The fading beams of sunlight shone brightly on 15 year old Brenda’s auburn hair as she sat rigidly on the edge of her desk chair. Brenda stared at the letter in her hand, her heart pounding. This young author had waited months for the letter she now gripped tightly. It was the letter that would inform her if she was to receive membership into the nationally acclaimed Maple View County Writers Club. Usually, only experienced authors were granted membership, but when Mrs. Evans, the founder of the club, had read Brenda’s children’s stories, she appealed to the council to make an exception. Now with trembling hands Brenda carefully opened the letter and read. As her eyes fell on the words ACCEPTANCE GRANTED a flood of joy surged through her. She jumped up jubilantly and tore down the stairs.
“Mom! Mom!” cried Brenda excitedly. Brenda’s mother, who was preparing dinner in the kitchen, hurried toward the stairs.
“What is it Honey?” she asked curiously.
As Brenda leaned over on the banister, she burst into happy tears. “Oh mom, I did it! I mean, it happened! I was accepted into the writing club!”
Brenda’s mom lovingly placed her hand on her daughter’s cheek. “I knew you could do it. Your writing is wonderful. I’m so proud of you.”
Brenda’s smile widened.
A few days later, the heavy door of the Maple View County Library clicked shut as Brenda glided in. As part of her orientation into the writers club, she was to meet with Dr. Brown, a fellow writer, to compare and edit each other’s work. Brenda quickly located the meeting spot. Dr. Brown was an older man who had been a college professor prior to retiring last year. He had the affable character of a grandpa and Brenda liked him at once. The meeting went very well. Dr. Brown showed Brenda his work. He was an excellent novel writer and was currently in the middle of writing a novel based on World War II. Later Brenda got out her children’s stories and handed them to the kind professor. After carefully examining them Dr. Brown smiled thoughtfully.
“Brenda, these are terrific. You could easily get them published.”
Brenda gasped. She hadn’t expected this.
“But,” he continued, “I believe, as an author, it would be more beneficial for you to turn to writing novels. You have more than enough talent to do so and novels are more profitable.”
Brenda’s smile faded. She loved writing children’s stories, but if novel writing was what Dr. Brown thought she should pursue, Brenda decided it couldn’t hurt to try.
All week Brenda worked diligently on her first novel. Thursday she met with another local author to compare and edit stories. This writer was an older woman named Mrs. Rosemont. Having won multiple awards for her work, she was a decorated author of romance but had a sour personality and an air of arrogance. During their meeting, it became clear to Brenda that all Mrs. Rosemount wished to discuss was her own work. She hardly touched Brenda’s story; and when she did her only remark was:
“Oh my, Brenda, if I were you, I would write something more romantic. Everybody loves romance. Oh! Did I tell you that my first successful novel was a romance? It was about a prince, Prince Nathaniel, and…” Mrs. Rosemont’s narration continued on for twenty minutes.
Brenda sighed inwardly. Romance…in her opinion was just disgusting. But, if Mrs. Rosemount thought romance was what she should write she could try.
So all the next week Brenda tweaked her story into a romance. On Thursday, when she met with yet another writer, she hoped her work would be more satisfactory. This week her fellow writer was a young woman in her upper twenties. Her bubbly disposition and comedic personality perfectly matched her name: Sunny Tickle. After reading the beginning of Brenda’s new novel, Sunny enthusiastically announced:
“I love your work! Amazing! Did you really write this?”
Brenda blushed modestly. “Yes, I did.”
“Wow!” Sunny paused. “I only have one tiny suggestion. Why not make it into science fiction? Sci-fi is becoming extremely popular and you can use your imagination so much more.”
Brenda managed an outward smile. Inwardly she was devastated. She? Write sci-fi? She couldn’t even bring herself to read science fiction let alone write it! But, Brenda desperately wanted to please the members of the writers club, so she decided to try her hand at it, despite her strong dislike of the subject.
Brenda cleared her throat and began reading in clear dramatic tones. Everyone sat on the edge of their seats, eagerly lapping up ever word she spoke.
“Brenda! Honey, it’s time to go!” Brenda’s mom’s voice abruptly broke into Brenda’s day dream as she sat staring into her bedroom mirror. She was clad in a lovely new turquoise dress covered with sequins. Her hair was carefully curled and fell in elegant ringlets on her shoulders. Sighing, Brenda took one more look at the gorgeous image in the mirror and then gathering up her things, hurried downstairs. Tonight was her first time attending the writers’ club meeting. She would be presenting the first chapter of her romantic science fiction novel and was eager to make a good first impression.
Brenda’s heart began to race. Her hands trembled and her knees felt wobbly. It was time. A chilling silence came over the room and all eyes turned to her. Brenda timidly rose to her feet and commenced reading her romantic science fiction story. Although she was nervous, her voice didn’t fail her. It was as clear and steady as ever. When Brenda reached the end of her short work of fiction she glanced around the room. To her surprise, many of the other authors were staring at her, dumbfounded. She suddenly felt intensely self-conscious and sat down blushing. A loud applause erupted and could be heard resounding in the hallways for quite some time. Brenda smiled shyly. This wasn’t exactly what she had imagined when she received the letter of acceptance into this writing club. She had expected a small amount of clapping, not the thunderous applause she was now receiving. She had also expected to read her beloved children’s stories, not the speck of a novel she grasped in her hands. But if this was what impressed the writing club, Brenda decided it was what she would pursue, at least for now.
After the meeting, many of the writers hung around and enjoyed chatting and refreshments before returning home. Brenda caught sight of both Sunny Tickle and Dr. Brown. They came over to congratulate her and she greeted them cheerfully. They introduced her to some of their friends. Brenda thoroughly enjoyed this and was surprised when a text from her mother informed her that it was time to leave. She reluctantly bade her new friends farewell and started for the parking lot. She, however, made it no farther than the hallway when Mrs. Evans unexpectedly stopped her.
“Brenda, I’d like to speak with you,” began Mrs. Evans slowly. “I want to heartily congratulate you. That piece of romantic science fiction was very well written.”
Brenda smiled broadly. “Thank you ma’am.”
“But,” continued Mrs. Evans firmly but not unkindly, “I didn’t see any of you in it.”
Brenda looked puzzled.
Mrs. Evans understood the look and attempted to explain. “Brenda, I’ve read much of your work and what you presented tonight was not it. It wasn’t you. It didn’t connect like your stories usually do. It was as if you didn’t even believe in what you wrote.”
Brenda’s eyes fell to the floor. She couldn’t deny it.
“I presume you’ve heard of the International Children’s Story Writers Convention?” asked Mrs. Evans.
“Oh, yes!” Brenda was swift to reply.
“Well, this club always sponsors a writer. I had hoped earlier that writer would be you, but I feel you need another year to find your calling in writing. To find your unique style.”
Brenda’s mouth gaped open. She wanted to cry out, to protest, but the words wouldn’t come. She had dreamed of attending the International Children’s Story Writers Convention for years. And now… she had missed her chance all because she tried to please a few authors. Brenda was mortified that she had let pleasing others sway her so far from what she loved to write. She tried to suppress the tears that so wished to spring from her eyes and roll down her cheeks. Mrs. Evans noted the change in her young friend and pressed on to say the last bit.
“Brenda, the only reason I am telling you all this is because I believe it will help you find what you are really meant to write. Whether it is romantic science fiction, children’s stories, or some other style. You need to find your calling as a writer. Yours and not anyone else’s.”
Brenda took control of her emotions. Politely, she thanked Mrs. Evans and excused herself. Once out of earshot Brenda burst into tears. She tried to stop them but they continued flowing. By the time she reached her mom’s gray SUV, mascara was streaked down her cheeks. Brenda climbed into the car, shut the door, and slumped up against the window, still weeping. Brenda’s mom was taken aback by her daughter’s meltdown and soothingly tried to comfort her.
“Oh mom,” cried Brenda between tears, “They wanted to send me to the International Children’s Story Writers Convention. But-but after…” Brenda’s voice broke and it took her a minute to recover. “After what I did they won’t send me anymore.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry,” Brenda’s mother’s tone was so loving it calmed Brenda some. After a little while, she composed herself and straightened from the slumped position she had assumed.
“Mrs. Evans said I need to find my calling in writing. She said I will develop my own unique style. I think I already have, I’ve just neglected it lately.” Brenda was penitent now. “I wanted to impress the other writers so much I used all their suggestions… and now it’s costing me.”
Brenda’s mom turned and gazed directly into her eyes. “Brenda, I think you have learned a very important lesson through this. You can’t please everyone. Everybody has different ideas and opinions, that’s just the way we are, nobody can make everyone happy.” Brenda’s mom paused and put her hand on her heart. “What’s important for you as a writer is to write from your heart.”